The 100th season of the NFL is underway, there’s been plenty of highlights already – but here’s a few more things we can expect to see.
2018/19: a season in review
The 2018/19 season brought with it some headline-grabbing moments, some standout players and, as with any NFL campaign, some big disappointments for teams and their supporters.
The MVP spot for the year definitely has to go to Kansas City Chiefs’ star quarterback Patrick Mahomes. As a first-year starter, Mahomes had an unprecedented season. He led the league in touchdown passes (50), yards per attempt (8.8) and came second in passing yards (5,097).
The highlight game of the year has to be the heart-stopping match between Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs, which ended with a 54-51 score, respectively. It was the highest-scoring game in Monday Night Football history, featuring 1,001 total yards with both quarterbacks passing for 400 and three defensive touchdowns. It was the first time in the history of the league that two teams scored 50 points in any NFL game — the teams combined for an astonishing 14 touchdowns.
The most shocking upset has to come from the Buffalo Bills game vs the Minnesota Vikings, which ended with a 27-6 score. The Vikings were expected to demolish the visiting Buffalo team, who were leaning on rookie quarterback Josh Allen (only on his third start). By halftime, the Bills were up 27-0; resulting in a disappointing performance by the Vikings and a shock for fans.
19/20: the ones to watch
The Cleveland Browns: There’s already some hype building around the Cleveland Browns. With a shared optimism for the team through training camp this summer, the team are expected to win more games than they’ll lose — and both Sports Illustrated and ESPN’s Football Power Index have predicted that the Browns will win their first division title in 30 years. This is due, in part, to their recent injection of young talent, including their brash second-year quarterback Baker Mayfield, as well as the addition of Odell Beckham to the receiving corps.
The Green Bay Packers: There’s always talk about the playoffs pre-season — and pundits are expecting to see the Green Bay Packers there. The Packers didn’t have the best season in 2018, finishing with a 6-9-1 record. This resulted in the termination of longtime head coach Mike McCarthy, who was fired hours after the Packer’s Week 13 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
The New England Patriots: Reigning Super Bowl champions the New England Patriots are expected to have another stunning year — and are the favourites with several football betting providers to win the championship again. They’ve also won 10 straight division titles and are expected to win their 11th this year. With a number of talented players on the defensive line, assisted by quarterback Tom Brady, running back Sony Michel and Bill Belichick as head coach, the team are looking to make another splash this season.
19/20: teams that should worry
The Chicago Bears: The Chicago Bears were something of a surprise success story last season. 2018 marked their first winning season since 2012 — as well as their first playoff appearance since 2010. While the season ended in disappointment, with a loss to the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, overall, they had improved from their 5-11 record.
Things could take a turn for the worse for the Bears following the release of the NFL’s 2019 regular-season schedule. During head coach Matt Nagy’s second season, the schedule gets tough during Week 7 with three consecutive games against three of 2018’s playoff teams: The Saints, Chargers and Eagles. There’s also a challenging road game in Week 11 against the defending NFC champion Los Angeles Rams and a four-game stretch against the Dallas Cowboys, Kansas City Chiefs, the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings. Time will tell if they can maintain 2018’s upward momentum during the 2019 campaign.
The Cincinnati Bengals: The Cincinnati Bengals face a tough start as part of the 2019 schedule. The Bengals are facing both the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams — who were both in the Super Bowl last year — as well as the San Francisco 49ers (with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo back), and a much-improved Cleveland Browns team, who beat them twice last season. Their big opponents are spread throughout the season — and have a heavy first game at one of the most difficult venues to play in the NFL: CenturyLink Field in Seattle.
The team’s four longest trips, including Seattle, London, Oakland and Miami add up to almost 10,000 miles of travel. It’s an exhausting trek, especially in the lead up to December where they play the Cleveland Browns twice as well as the New England Patriots.
Here’s when it all kicks off
The regular season runs from September 5, 2019 – December 29, 2019, with the playoffs start date set for 4 January 2020. The Super Bowl will be held at the Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida on the 2nd February.
The season kickoff between the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers will happen at Soldier Field — a game in honor of the Bears’ and the NFL’s centennial season. It’s a move that breaks with league tradition, which typically gives the defending Super Bowl champion the hosting rights to the first game of the season.
There will also be five games held outside the United States in 2019 as part of the NFL International Season.